Friday, October 2, 2009

Sept 29 - Oct 1 Transit to Hampton Roads

There are two ways to sail – upwind and downwind.  We had both on this trip.

Peter joined me Monday night and Tuesday morning we set sail from Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club bound for Hampton Roads.  Like all transits this one started miserably; wind 25 knots gusting to 35 directly in our face.  Even so it was cool passing Ellis Island and the Status of Liberty.  We passed under the Verrazano Bridge and Reboot was in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

For the first day our progress was excellent even though conditions were miserable.  Here is an experiment you might try to share our experience.  Find a friend with a pickup truck.  Have he/she four wheel it over the roughest terrain available for 24 hours at 35 miles per hour.  Stand in the bed of the pickup truck. Every few minutes have another friend throw a bucket of ice water at you.  You get to try to sleep for 1 hour and then you steer for 1 hour.  Does this sound like fun?  Any sailor will tell you it isn’t, and I am no exception.  The good news of course is that we were clocking thru the water like crazy.

We stopped early in the AM at Ocean City, MD.  I think Diane, Trevor and Spencer’s mom, used to vacation here as a child.  We went down a very developed coast of beachfront high rise buildings until at the entrance to the channel we finally reached what I dubbed “old Ocean City.”  A beach, a small amusement park and some bungalows on the beach took me back to my college days on the Jersey shore.

As we left Ocean City we had a favorable wind shift to a broad reach.  What a difference.  Reboot settled down, no longer driving into the wind and waves.  The sun came out and warmed us and dried us out.  Although we were still on the one hour on one hour off steering watches we were able to get some rest.

We arrived at Hampton Roads early in the AM and made our way through the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel.  We were happy to have our chart plotter working to confirm our position.  Between the many channel marker buoys and the shore lights it can get pretty confusing, particularly when you are tired.  Of course finding the passage thru the bridge-tunnel is no problem, it’s just the dark spot between the causeways.  The trick is to not get run over by some 1000 ft long freighter that is churning and burning its way down the channel.

We got sorted out early in the morning and then called for clearance into the US Navy Amphibious Base at Little Creek VA.  The last time I steered this channel was in a Landing Ship Tank – the USS Boulder (LST-1190) and they didn’t ask me to show my ID card.  Of course after 9/11 the base security was changed and we were had to present our IDs to the security force before proceeding to the marina.  And yes, they had guns.  In fact, there are quite a few security boats, not to mention US Coast Guard, Seal Teams and Riverine Warfare Units that are training and patrolling the basin too.  And they all have guns!  Of course, they are really nice guys; in fact some Coasties gave me a ride from Reboot over to the USO for lunch.  I found it interesting that their RIB does not have seats but rather saddles that you straddle as if you were riding a horse.  There is a grab ring (or a control panel with radio, radar, etc.) in front of you so you can hang on when they turn up the volume.  I am now angling to get a ride on the outside (in the Roads) as I bet it would be a trip!

 We are now tied up across from the control tower for the base.  Norfolk Airport’s runway 29 (I think that is the one according to Ace) takes the commercial airliners right over my head.  At least there are not many flights late at night when I am trying to sleep.

More on the base, the marina, and the local USO in my next post.

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